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From the Streets

By Bandit with photos from the Redhead and Wrench

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This is going to be good, like the party of parties before the battle for freedom and America begins. I’ll stay between the white lines as I attempt to cover the rally and my first wild experience after relocating to the Black Hills and available for action every day.

The constant hum of action prevailed daily, with the rumble of V-twins, non-stop shows, concerts, celebrations, parties and jamming bars are just the tip of the chromed mountain leading up to the rally. Last year, my shop wasn’t complete, and I was attacked by the deadly Covid virus. I found myself locked down in my basement dungeon. Only semi-prepared this year, the rally kept coming like it or not.

Let’s back up some and look at the times leading up to the action. I did all I could to keep the shop building progress on track. I encountered troubled neighbors who got in the way, and I needed to grapple with property line decisions and quickly available resources. It got it handled, a new fence constructed, and we moved on.

I needed a trailer for our Bonneville effort and worked with Mike Baynes, a Hamster who owned a trailer sales company in Belle Fourche. I visited his facility and he offered help with a bridge over the creek traversing through my property to reach the other side. Now we have access to another half-acre.

Speaking of Bonneville lurking just two weeks after the rally, we had projects to tackle. We needed to deal with repairs and prep. Fortunately, we rapidly built a team who wanted to see the Salt Torpedo, our streamlined trike, on the salt.

I also worked with a local welder to complete a gantry to allow us to work on the Salt Torpedo and replace the rear tire. It froze in the winter. Damn, a brand-new tire. There went another $500. Jason, our contractor was kind enough to offer his equipment to move crates within working distance of the shop and a group of brothers, including Hamsters offered to come and tear down each crate.

When I first arrived in Sturgis, the moving company off loaded the massive truck and packed the upper level two-car garage to the rafters with shop equipment and too boxes. Unfortunately, there was no room for the Salt Torpedo and the Redhead’s new car. The Torpedo was relegated to the outdoors. The cold winter destroyed the rear tire, cheaper than a new wife.

As the shop reached completion, Jason moved everything out of the upper garage. We moved equipment into the shop, but critical stuff was missing, like legs for benches and bench vices. My Smithy lathe was delivered but not into the shop until it was finished and then we ran into set-up issues.

This all occurred less than three weeks before the rally. Every day I forced progress of some sorts. We were able to move benches and equipment, but we couldn’t get to work without final building inspection. Then we faced the final electrical inspection. But we continued to take major steps and once the inspections passed, we could start to get to work unencumbered.

We ran into minor issues like setting up the lathe and making it work or not work with existing outlets. My contractor and electrician decided I needed 50 amp 220 outlets, which didn’t match any of my equipment. Chris, the boss of Baldwin electrical, made me a pigtail to support the difference and it worked, I could start welding.

My lifts were both damaged from the move. One needed a new airline and the other needed reassembly and ultimately a new retaining spring, so I reached out to Handy Lifts for a replacement part. A local auto parts made a new line for the other lift, and I was golden, almost. I still need a brass 45-degree 3/4 pipe thread fitting.

I bought a replacement yesterday.

We rapidly closed in on the rally, Salt Torpedo preparations and Bonneville including new certified harnesses, certified fire extinguishers and the tire.

Bob T in hiding in 13 Palms, CA with Frankie and Dr. Hamster as they were heading out.
Bob T in hiding in 13 Palms, CA with Frankie and Dr. Hamster as they were heading out.

My grandson, in Los Angeles, just completed his first major event with 5-Ball Racing Leathers, at Born Free and he wanted out of the city. I figured they could figure it out. The options included trailers, driving, riding in groups, or just the two riding out together, which is how it happened.

I started riding bikes from our Deadwood storage to the shop digs in Boulder Canyon. Nuts, bikes ran fine until the ride three miles into the canyon, then they acted up. That included my 2014, recently serviced Indian. It wouldn’t start. The battery in the fob needed to be replaced.

Arlin Fatland honoring America.
Arlin Fatland honoring America.

As I grappled with my deadline, bike and shop issues, I would occasionally think about other folks is similar circumstances. Take for instance, Arlin Fatland, a Hamster who owns 2wheelers in Denver. For over 30 years, he and Donna packed up an entire shop and headed to Sturgis, where he bought a satellite store. He brings staff and runs the store and then peels back to Denver, where he has run his bike shop for over 50 years. Lots more stuff to think about.

How about Woody, his family and Marilyn Stemp who run the Buffalo Chip. Fuck, imagine all the bullshit, plumbing, electrical, tents, RVs, tacos, staff and rock groups they deal with during the rally. I’m super lightweight when it comes to this experience, but still it was my first time. Here’s a quick rally take from Marilyn:

“Ha - my brain is fried! I get it now...

“Impressions of the rally? Several factors seem to be affecting the trend toward arriving early to the Rally - and leaving early, too.

“Add to this: the city decided a few years ago to make the rally begin on the first Friday in August. If that Friday is on, say, the 5th of the month like this year, the entire event gets pushed back to the second week of August instead of the first.

“I heard polar opposite reports regarding foot traffic in town. Some said it was mobbed, others indicated light. So who knows? I only got off site twice and both times took me toward the east. I thought motorcycle traffic on I-90 was light.

“Just my 2 cents...”

The day before the rally hit Adrian, who has lived in Deadwood for over 20 years reached out. “I broke my side-mount taillight, license plate bracket off my Softail. Gotta fix it quick.”

Suddenly, another factor fed into the rally mix. I have a shop. Adrian brought his bike over and we went to work, but he had a construction job, so he peeled out. Before he left, he told me the story behind his first rally once he moved. “It ruined it for me,” Adrian said. “I was doing an interior design job in the Bullock Hotel and brothers started to roll into town. My boss took one look as my face and told me, “Get out and come back in a week.”

I built a bracket to save his billet aluminum system, reshaped the unit and rewired the taillight. The next morning a brother called. He broke his belt somewhere between the east coast and the badlands. Grease loaded his bike in their support truck and unloaded and rode his son’s Sportster the rest of the trip. I steered him to Dakota V-Twin, Randy Cramer’s stellar shop and U-Haul trailer dealership in Spearfish. I couldn’t deal with the rally and become a working shop. Holy shit.

Randy did the job of installing a chain final-drive system. When Grease stopped by our joint he brought me an emergency belt, which he chose not to try out. I’ve never seen one before and plan to frame it. Hang on.

I suddenly discovered my calendar was packed with a minimum of two events a day starting with Saturday arrivals and the Hamster block party.

Sunday was already packed with the Flying Piston Breakfast and the Chip industry party at the Michael Lichter exhibit and something in the evening.

I rode the 2014 Indian down to the Chip, signed books, took interviews, met lots of folks and had breakfast sans ketchup or salsa. WTF over. After breakfast, Dr. Hamster, Frankie and I rode to the Michael Lichter building, built specifically for Mike’s stellar exhibits, but he wasn’t there, and we couldn’t get in. Reports indicated this was Mike’s best exhibit ever. Right up to the rally I helped write and edit his bike and art plaque copy.

I installed a Baker 4-6 speed transmission in a Paughco frame with Paughco trees and gas tank and delivered it to the Chip for a grand show award of some sorts. The recipient would also receive an S&S engine. Paughco did a terrific job supplying raked trees and everything chromed or powder-coated. The winner would score!

Finding the pallet of stuff at the Iron Horse Saloon was a trip, and I hope the Cycle Source Magazine staff received all their goods. Security was sorta lax.

I also grappled with my two Panheads and the ’48 UL. I wanted to ride a different one to each event, but each bike had issues. Whenever we had a minute, we played with carbs, clutches and fuel issues.

Frankie and the good doctor came over and we tested the two Panheads. They rode them to the Deadwood Outlaw Square for a Choppers Magazine show. The left case is cracked on the UL, and I wanted Cabana Dan to take a look. I’m tempted to tear it down this winter and go through the engine.

Micah McCloskey rode fast and hard from the west coast with some Ugly brothers and needed to ride out on Wednesday after the Sturgis Museum Hall of Fame breakfast where Carlo and Emma were being inducted, also Uglys. We had limited time to meet and it turned out to be Monday morning when Hamsters and team members came to inspect the Salt Torpedo shinning in the new shop.

Just a couple of days before, we struggled with BMST, AMA and FIM Bonneville land speed record sign-up registration forms. Micah was forced to have a doctor fill out forms and sign off on his racing capabilities. We were required to take a series of photos of the Salt Torpedo. Cabana Dan helped clean and prep the liner.

At first it wouldn’t start. Micah was concerned and I chased the power source to the coil, nada. Ultimately, I discovered a bad ground and ran a ground directly from the battery to the German ignition system.



The day before Micah’s visit, I fixed the ground on the ignition system and Cabana Dan and I installed the new certified harness system, but Micah needed to adjust all five to his slight frame. That was one of his assignments on Monday. About 30 guys came over to check the action and watch as Micah fired the Salt torpedo, checked the controls and shifting. It was good to go, except Carl Pussar recommended a carb strap to prevent movement. I’ll handle that.

Nick, from Trask Turbo, with his 200 HP Twin Cam. Half hour later I saw him pulled over on the highway.
Nick, from Trask Turbo, with his 200 HP Twin Cam. Half hour later I saw him pulled over on the highway.

The mandatory annual Hamster meeting called for required attendance at 4:30. The banquet followed. I attended the meeting, took notes and then slipped out the back door to meet with some thugs in a dark canyon about a carburetor. The Hamsters raised over $507,000 for the Children’s Hospital, Life Scape, in Rapid City, a record.

We finally were awarded the correct number.
We finally were awarded the correct number.

I received a call; my new FIM assigned number 5 Salt Torpedo stickers were ready at Quick Signs in Spearfish. I received another call about my Bonneville Team shirts.

The next day, Tuesday, I rode to Nemo with 200 Hamsters for the memorial ride for Hamsters who are no longer with us. The weather was perfect, and the ride up winding Vanocker Canyon into the Jack Pine woods couldn’t be more amazing. I think one brother broke down.

A quick mention of the Hamsters. It’s a group made of a combination of industry guys who own motorcycle shops or motorcycle companies, other businesses guys and even sports figures, but all enjoy custom bikes. The other Hamster notion or code is giving back. They support lots of charity efforts and the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum. About 30 of the Hamsters now live in South Dakota. If you’re ever in a jam and need help and you stumble across a Hamster, he will help, and he’ll probably buy you a drink.

We all took various roads back into towns around the region, like Deadwood, Lead, Sturgis, Spearfish and Rapid City. I steered my 5-Ball Indian into Deadwood to the Lodge for a Hall of Fame breakfast rehearsal. I was scheduled to introduce Tom Seymour, the founder of Saddlemen seats, a 2022 Sturgis Museum inductee.



Afterwards, the Redhead and I blasted into a little town west of Rapid, Piedmont and the new Saddlemen Headquarters overlooking a magnificent view of the valley below. We ran into Jeff, the V-Twin visionary, who ran several shows and several industry cats and the new boss of Saddlemen, Dave Eckart. Also Buster, from Saddlemen, enjoyed the rally for the first time in a few years.

Here's Tom Seymour. I helped coordinate this Buck Lovell shot bike feature during the rally for Cycle Source Magazine. The 45 engine with the K-model top end came from me, but this bike was built by Steve Massicotte at the Paughco Factory. Watch for the feature, amazing bike.
Here's Tom Seymour. I helped coordinate this Buck Lovell shot bike feature during the rally for Cycle Source Magazine. The 45 engine with the K-model top end came from me, but this bike was built by Steve Massicotte at the Paughco Factory. Watch for the feature, amazing bike.

The following day I spent half of it at the inspiring Sturgis Hall of Fame breakfast, and then spent some time with my grandson, because Frankie and Dr. Hamster planned to hit the road at the crack of dawn the next morning. Micah called and the Redhead and I slipped into Sturgis in the evening to Pappy Hoel’s old digs for an Ugly dinner with Vinnie and the crew.

I also worked with Buck Lovell on the Pandemic bike feature for Cycle Source Magazine and our billboards in Deadwood.
I also worked with Buck Lovell on the Pandemic bike feature for Cycle Source Magazine and our billboards in Deadwood.

I received a call. Doctor Hamster’s Evo FLH minus bag lids needed an air-cleaner bracket, quick. Fortunately, he handled it and the next morning they stopped by the shop before heading toward the west coast.

I peeled back to Spearfish for the Hamster barbecue and ride to Sturgis. Suddenly, the rally seem shot, over, gone or toast. Rigs pulled out, brothers packed to cut a dusty trail in the morning and the airport got busy. Late Thursday night I received a call from Michael Lichter and his son Shawn. “Can we meet for Breakfast at Sturgis Coffee?”

“What time?” I asked.

“Early, we gotta roll to Denver,” Mike said.

We met, although the times changed some. Mike is another rally master who kicks his own ass every rally, while trying to produce a world class, art/custom motorcycle exhibit annually. This is his 22nd year. He pushed himself way too hard. I can say that, and his son will roll his eyes.

“Our headlights went out at 3:00 in the morning on the way out,” Shawn said. “Then the taillights became intermittent.”

On top of organizing and directing this exhibit with 40 bikes and several artists, Mike commits to producing a complete photo shoot of every bike on display. A feature photoshoot takes about four hours. Do the math. He spent all night long at the Chip building many nights, without air conditioning, and was lucky to get out before 2:00 in the morning.

Plus, he was supposed to shoot the rally, for Easyriders magazine. “I couldn’t get focused,” Mike said.

“Plus, our SUV tailgate stopped closing and we had to bungie it,” Shawn added. Then in the middle of the rally a biker at the Chip ran into their trailer with his bike, got up, dusted himself off and rode away damaging their rear fender. “No big deal,” Shawn added.

There’s never a dull moment at a Sturgis Rally…


2022 Rally Reports:

Every rally is an adventure for everyone. “The numbers were down, but I noticed fewer emblazoned plastic bags full of new purchases,” Arlin Fatland said from his shop on Main Street, Sturgis.

Fred Cuba, bike and hot rod builder came out for his 50th time and brought his dog.
Fred Cuba, bike and hot rod builder came out for his 50th time and brought his dog.

Marilyn Stemp from the Chip:

“My reports for the 2022 Rally indicated fewer people came to the Black Hills than in prior years,” said Marilyn Stemp from the Chip. “That view, in my opinion, is partly colored by a shift in when people arrive and how long they stay: rally-goers continue to arrive earlier "to beat the crowds" and leave town mid-week to get home, a reflection of advancing school start dates.

“Apart from numbers, I believe a desire to travel post-Covid fueled enthusiasm while gas prices may have held back discretionary spending. The people I overlapped with were happy and positive. Creativity was on display as builders revealed new work, fresh elements entered the Rally experience, and a ton of good was done for charitable efforts.”

A few Wonderful Rally words from a Bikernet Reader:
“2022 marks my 39 trip to the black hills, admitting not always on one of my scooters. Just love South Dakota, and its people!

Rally week has always been the best. I’d go back to camping in the park. I plan on coming every year no matter what. I'm old now planning on getting a lot older, so as a precaution to aging, I built a sidecar. Nothing is going to stop me.

YES, ride forevermore!

-- Stevie B
Just South of chi-town, IL

We got a new sponsor.
We got a new sponsor.

Report from a former Texan:
You know, Sturgis is the mecca of all riding and rally lore. The roads are smooth, curves are plentiful, and the beer is cold. I LOVE the atmosphere of South Dakota and am bummed to have missed it again.

On a positive note, since I moved to the Midwest, I get to experience a lot of the things that made me love traveling to South Dakota from South Texas. The cool feel of the soft grass and the crisp morning air, the warmth of the sun and contrasted cool shade just a few feet away and rolling blacktop with miles of un-interrupted green landscape to look over.

It's the nirvana of riding free and feeling the blessings of nature on our skin while forgetting the nonsense of everyday stresses that make Sturgis the epitome of why we ride at all.

Great coverage as usual, see you soon.

--Johnny White

Just look at those mountains...
Just look at those mountains...


Life Scape

Click for info about the kids.
Click for info about the kids.



Saddlemen Seats


Sturgis Motorcycle Hall of Fame

Click for more info.
Click for more info.

Iron Trader

Check the Iron Trader out.
Check the Iron Trader out.

Dakota V-Twin
(605) 717-0009

Join the Cantina, Quick! Touch her.
Join the Cantina, Quick! Touch her.

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Reader Comments

Good Article!

Palm Bay, FL
Sunday, August 28, 2022
Editor Response Thanks brother.

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